Neighbors help with all sorts of things — keeping an emergency spare key, producing a cup of sugar when you’re out, lending a professional baseball field when your team is in a jam.
When a safety issue arose with the backstops on the diamonds of St. Charles High School, players looked over their shoulders to find the Regency Furniture Stadium standing in the background. Varsity players were about to get the opportunity of their hitting and fielding lives when the management of Southern Maryland Blue Crabs offered the Spartans the chance to use the field.
When the stadium was built, it was meant to be multifaceted, open for organizations in the tri-county area that needed it, said Courtney Knichel, Blue Crabs general manager. The Spartans needed a place to play. “You guys are our neighbors, come over and play ball,” Knichel said.
“It’s an opportunity not a lot of kids get,” said Zachary Bush, head coach of the St. Charles High School varsity baseball team and a social studies teacher at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School. “It’s an opportunity, me as a player, never got — to play in a professional ball park.”
The Spartans have played a couple of games at the stadium and are slated to host Maurice J. McDonough High School at 4:30 p.m. April 27 and Thomas Stone High School at 4:30 p.m. April 29. Blue Crabs management is looking into getting more high school baseball teams playing time at the stadium. The Southern Maryland Athletic Conference championships will be played at the stadium May 11. Relationships between the Blue Crabs and high school teams in the region haven’t been explored too much in the past, but Knichel is aiming to change that. “We’re exploring further partnerships,” she said. For now, the Spartans are breaking in the field.
“I told them to have as much fun as they can,” Bush said. “It should make you confident to play in a nice facility … the ball isn’t going to take a bad hop.” Bush, who is assisted in coaching duties by Mike Colatruglio, a St. Charles social studies teacher, said he can see that confidence in his players — many of which are underclassmen — 10 of the 16 on the varsity squad are freshmen or sophomores.
The seniors and juniors are laying the foundation on which the younger players will build, Bush said. The school is in its second year, St. Charles juniors and seniors came from potentially stronger programs at their former schools. St. Charles seniors Gage Dietrich and Cody Hill, centerfielder and shortstop, respectively, and junior Dominic Ford, the Spartans catcher, think playing on the Blue Crabs home turf is great.
They grew up playing baseball on sandlots, moved on to Little League, and have been in the stands at professional contests, but never really thought they would get the chance to play in such facilities. “The whole feel and atmosphere is different,” Hill said of playing at the home field of the Blue Crabs. “You feel like its MLB or something,” Dietrich said. “Or college,” Ford added.
“It makes you see the game differently,” Dietrich said. “It’s just a great view.”
“We’re just stoked to play,” Hill said. “Baseball is baseball no matter where you play.”
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.